On a beautiful summer event in Toronto, Sandals Resorts International welcomed a high-powered group of its tourist board and tour operator partners onboard the Lady Sandals for an evening of conversation and camaraderie.
It was definitely a laid-back gathering with Maureen Barnes-Smith, director of sales and marketing for Unique Vacations, welcoming the 50 or so VIPs onboard “her yacht” — well, actually, she admitted that it’s the Honourable Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart’s (Sandals’ founder) yacht, but he’s loaned it to her for the next week.
She told Sandals’ travel trade partners that the evening was designed to be a “thank you” to them — not a sales opportunity – in appreciation of all their hard work they had been doing for the luxury-included Caribbean resort company.
Of course, Gary Sadler, senior vice-president of sales, global for Unique Vacations, did happen to mention something about that little matter.
With a big smile and in his own inimitable style, Sadler told his audience: “Summer is about over. Our brochures are out. Tour operators need to get back to work. Whatever you sold last year, sell more.”
The tongue-in-cheek comments drew both applause and laughter from those aboard the Lady Sandals and set the tone for the three-hour cruise of Toronto harbour.
On board were top officials – including ambassadors, tourism ministers and consul generals – for such key Caribbean destinations as Grenada, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, Barbados, Saint Lucia and Antigua. Representatives from Air Canada Vacations, Transat, TravelBrands and WestJet were also aboard.
Talking with Press Today, Barnes-Smith explained that the Sandals had been hosting a number of evening cruises aboard the Lady Sandals for agents during this past week as a way of thanking them for their support.
From Toronto, the Lady Sandals will head to Kingston, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax where it will host travel agent events in each of those destinations.
Those cruises, Barnes-Smith are also a way of “reinforcing the quality of our product and how we stand apart [from the competition]” for agents.
On the horizon, she said that Sandals is gearing up for its annual fall dinner events for agents and details on those will be released soon.
As for Sadler, he made it clear that Canada has and continues to be an “important” market for Sandals and that it is here to stay, telling his guests: “Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for believing in us.”
So stay tuned, there’s always more to come from Sandals …